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Isabel Layton Finds New Confidence During Her Semester in Costa Rica

Program: Heredia, Costa Rica (USAC)
Term: Spring 2023
Majors: Environmental Science & Spanish

Studying abroad has broadened my horizons, pushed my boundaries of comfort, communication, and knowledge and, most of all, forced me to grow in the best ways. The trust I have in myself has skyrocketed–if I can navigate a foreign country with no understanding of the language and a loose grasp on the culture completely by myself and come out healthy and happy, I feel much more confident approaching situations in the U.S. (and abroad)! This, along with the increased cross-linguistic and cross-cultural skills, has helped me get a position after graduation. My network has expanded past the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (Costa Rica National University) grounds to local friends, host family and fellow study abroad students from around the U.S.

I wish I knew that the culture and language barriers would be hard but incredibly worth the amount of personal growth you go through during your time in another country.

A standout memory…

My host mom's best friend's host student (kind of a mouthful!) invited me on a last-minute weekend getaway with friends to see the bioluminescence. That morning we got on a bus to a boat launch where we walked onto a 15-person speed boat to a tiny island for two days. When we arrived we realized there was no reception, which was a bit jarring at first but it was great to just connect with nature! Unfortunately, one of us got a little too close to the organisms... Later that day, one of our friends got bitten by a stingray and nearly had to be airlifted out, but luckily the stingray had been young so the poison wasn't strong enough to cause anything beyond general pain. That night, we saw the bioluminescence and it was beyond words gorgeous. It was incredibly rewarding to push past our boundaries of what felt comfortable and just go for it!

If I hadn't studied abroad, I would have never walked in bioluminescent waters!

Instagram: @isazulita

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